Second round of windows of learning open in Lanark

The second round of FREE Robert Owen’s Windows of Learning workshops have opened for parents, teachers and early years workers in Lanark, during April and May.


The workshops celebrate the legacy of Robert Owen, one-time Manager of New Lanark Mills and influential social reformer, who believed in promoting a joy of learning. The project marks the 200th anniversary of the formation of Owen’s Institute for the Formation of Character in 1816 – the first infant school in the world.


© New Lanark Parents Association
© New Lanark Parents Association

Inspired by Owen’s philosophy of learning for the whole community, adults are invited to join a series of four FREE informal ‘Ways to Nurture a Joy of Learning’ sessions, taking place over four Fridays from 21 April until 12 May in Lanark Memorial Hall, 3 – 5pm.


The adult sessions run at the same time as FREE Creative ‘Castaway’ Workshops for children providing a childcare option. Led by South Lanarkshire Leisure and Culture Trust, the workshops relate to one of Robert Owen’s favourite books – Daniel Defoe’s ‘Robinson Crusoe’. Children will find themselves cast away down the Clyde to a remote island. Using drama, nature craft, percussion and wild play, they will discover hidden talents to survive and return home safely, whilst their guardians attend the adult workshops.


The schedule for the adult ‘Ways to Nurture a Joy of Learning’ sessions are as follows:


Friday 21 April: Be inspired by Sue Palmer, author of Toxic Childhood, 21st Century Boys and Upstart as she invites the audience to think about global trends that help and hinder children’s natural love of learning.


Friday 28 April and 5 May: With a background in music, teaching and education for equity, Gary Walsh will facilitate informal discussions on the role of character, casting new light on an ancient idea once favoured by Robert Owen.


Friday 12 May: Put all of the ideas discussed over the previous sessions into practice as we bring adults and children together to enjoy an interactive wild play session in the woods at New Lanark Racecourse.

The sessions are introduced by Ian and Tila from Catch the Light. Both are local parents with a background in youth and community development who make sure there is a fun and relaxed environment for you to take part.


Book the adult and children’s workshops at


The Robert Owen’s Windows of Learning project is being led by New Lanark Primary School Parent Association in association with Lanark Primary School, Robert Owen Memorial Primary School, St Mary’s Primary School, New Lanark Primary School and Kirkfieldbank Primary School, as well as Little People Nursery and Grand-Y-Care Academy.

© New Lanark Parents Association
© New Lanark Parents Association

The project opened with pupil visits to New Lanark World Heritage Site to find out about Robert Owen and his ethos. Local school pupils are in the process of creating a new piece of history by taking part in stained glass workshops, led by local artist Fiona Foley, which will result in a large scale installation in New Lanark Primary School in August 2017.


In a quest to promote Owen’s love of Lanark’s natural assets, Forest School Training for parents, guardians, teachers and childcare workers are running concurrently to the workshops, to help support the development of outdoor learning skills.


The project has been developed as part of the Heritage Lottery Fund supported Clyde and Avon Valley Landscape Partnership (CAVLP) programme, with support from Big Lottery Fund, Clydesdale Bank PLC and New Lanark Trust. New Lanark Primary School Parents Association and CAVLP would also like to thank the family and friends of the late George Cullen, who made generous in memorium donations totalling £800. Mr Cullen was a local man, formerly a teacher at Dalzell High School and Biggar High School, and a lover of the Clyde and Avon Valley area.


Tila Morris, New Lanark Primary School Parent Association, explains, “Robert Owen, dedicated to improving the lives of those living and working in New Lanark, believed that education was the key to forming a society free from crime and poverty. As such, the Institute for the Formation of Character was opened in 1816 as a school for the young, as well a venue for evening lectures and concerts for the workers.”


She continues, “This was the first attempt at introducing adult education to the working classes. Classrooms were spacious and adorned with wall maps, bright pictures of animals and friezes and the Institute was considered by many who visited New Lanark to be ‘one of the greatest modern wonders’. It is this amazing legacy that the Windows of Learning project has been inspired by – we hope that as many people as possible take advantage of this wonderful opportunity.”


During Robert Owen’s time at New Lanark, children aged three to six were taught to share and be kind to each other, primarily through play. From the ages of seven to twelve, children were taught a wide range of subjects including history, geography, nature study, art, singing and dancing. No rewards and no punishments were given in the Institute, as Owen believed they were unnecessary where children were interested and enjoyed their lessons.


“Robert Owen’s Windows of Learning sits alongside a number of other family focussed wild play and education projects supported through the Clyde and Avon Valley Landscape Partnership, such as Growing Up Wild family play sessions and Forest School training for parents and teachers,” says Karen Dobbins, CAVLP Development Officer.


She continues, “CAVLP are delighted to be able to support this large-scale and exciting project that will strengthen family, school and nursery partnerships, and create greater networking and resource sharing amongst schools, whilst building parental skills in outdoor learning and child development.”


For a full list of FREE ‘Ways to Nurture a Joy of Learning’ sessions and Creative Workshops for children, and to book, visit


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The second round of FREE Robert Owen’s Windows of Learning workshops have opened for parents, teachers and early years workers in Lanark, during April and May.   The workshops celebrate …

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